A retelling of the Indian migrant worker’s plight

Source– The post is based on the article “A retelling of the Indian migrant worker’s plight” published in The Hindu on 28th December 2022.

Syllabus: GS2- Indian diaspora and vulnerable sections of population

Relevance–  Issues related to emigration

News– The article explains the status of immigration across the world. It also explains the challenges faced by migrants. Itr also suggests the way forward for improving the conditions of migrants in India

What is the status of immigration across the world?

According to the World Migration Report 2022, there were 281 million international migrants globally in 2020. Nearly two-thirds are labour migrants.

South Asia’s share is nearly 40%. The South Asia-Gulf Migratory corridor is the world’s largest migrant corridor.

Long-term data on international migration show that migration is not uniform across the world. It is shaped by economic, geographic, demographic and other factors. It results in distinct migration patterns, such as migration corridors developed over many years.

Recently, 300 Indian engineers from Tamil Nadu were trafficked to Myanmar to work for a crypto-scam. Joblessness due to COVID-19 was responsible for it.

What are issues with immigration in India?

India is the largest migrant-sending and remittance-receiving country. But, the welfare of Indian migrants abroad does not seem to be a priority for the Government and policymakers.

India lacks a tangible and comprehensive migration policy to ensure decent living and safe movement of migrants.

Migration to abroad is governed by the Emigration Act. However, the Indian government has been silent on the issue of updating the Act.

What are the challenges faced by immigrants across the world?

The United Nations, through its non-binding resolution, “Global Compact for Safe, Orderly Migration and Regular Migration”, recognises the challenges migrant labour faces across the world.

The recurring problems faced by migrants are irregular payment, poor working conditions, negation of labour rights. There is absence of a proper grievance redress mechanism. They don’t have access to a transparent judicial system.

Rich employers in GCC violate basic labour laws and refuse regular salaries and dues. They are from different nationalities, including Indians.

The pandemic has resulted in unemployment, under-employment. It has led to reduction in salaries, and non-payment of salaries, compensation and residual dues.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the existing exploitative nature of the Kafala system.

What are some steps taken by countries for improving the conditions of migrants?

Presently, South Asian countries and their civil society members are leading a ‘justice for wage theft’ campaign. It is for the disbursement of the pending salary benefits and other related dues of labour.

Countries such as the Philippines which have recorded the wage theft of their migrants are taking up the issue legally.

What is the way forward to improve the conditions of migrants?

Attention needs to be focussed on the women migrant workforce. They are largely limited to GCC countries and also to the OECD countries to some extent.

Indian nurses and care-givers have been working in the most volatile countries such as Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen and Israel.

Government should comprehensively assess the situation of migrant women. It should create women-centric, rights-based policies.

The Government of India has to revisit its policies in the post-pandemic migratory scenario. It should engage all stakeholders and pass the Emigration Bill 2021.

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